The Sunday Nature Call, Uke 18: Measured in memories

I had a new bird in my sights at Mosvatnet in Stavanger. My mother and Meghan saw it, I tried to get them to remember its song because I’m worthless at that. My plan was to use the song and Youtube to make the ID. Ah, memories are so fleeting, by the time we returned from the walk and were able to get situated no one could be sure anymore against the choices. A mystery in Rogaland.

No photos for this post. All the good pics are on the good camera. That is, I can’t get them downloaded for another couple of days. Maybe I’ll add some pictures later, maybe.

New birds: 0, Journey to date: 66

Nitten (Bupkis cribbage)


Measured in Memories

The parade of humanity was unbroken, but I had my doubts that all the paraders would be. As far as I could see up trail and down trail, the marchers plodded. Most were ebullient, a few determined, and many pained. Pilgrim routes criss-cross Europe, many wind to Rome and some to shrines. In Norway there are two pilgrams’ paths that lead to Nidaros Cathedral. This path led to a special site predating any Christian God. The path led to Preikestolen.

Eight kilometers, big deal. Sure, 8K in the city or level country path is a piece of cake. But in the wilds of Rogaland, 8K is a four hour journey up and down rocks and boulders.  You could do it faster but at a cost: the scenery, the smells, and all the memories. And in the end, that is what you really want, the memories, not the kilometers.

I thought it would be easy, but I also knew that was a foolish assumption. Coupled with the family in tow, I had not only resolved to take a leisurly pace but I found the unusual space in my hurried mind to welcome it. Meghan was the one on the mission.

Preikestolen, “The Pulpit Rock” is thee iconic nature image of Norway. My first fortnight in Rogaland was October, the rock loomed larged in my mind. My free time was too tight to risk a trip to run up and back before nightfall. To hurry and “bag” a peak seemed to diminish the importance of the place. Plus, since I couldn’t, I used that excuse as my justification.

Our journey to the summit was multi-model. We walked about 2K to the harbor. The large car ferry took 30 minutes to traverse the outer fjord to Tau. A bus in Tau took us up and up switchbacks. 12K later, we reached the visitor center and start of the hike.

The scene could have been mistaken for the trails in Colorado or the Sierra’s of California. An azure sky was baking the evergreens, the smell of needles rose ever so gently in the still morning air. The dusty trail crunched and ground beneath our feet.

People carried backpacks, large and small. Some sported Camelbacks, others a belted canteen. Many older hikers had poles or a staff, a few younger hikers did too. Some men and women carried babies, a couple of men carried toddlers.

One man carried the flag of a foreign land, others had plastic shopping bags with unknown contents. Too many people wore headphones, some groups talked too loudly. All carried the goal of Preikestolen.

At the first bench it was time to shed layers. The boys stripped. At first they balked, we repeated to them our familiar line, “It’s Norway, nobody cares.” They were cooler and happier. Onward.

Since 2013 men from Nepal have been working the trial. By hand they have broken, cut, and stacked rocks to make a more consist walking surface. Their handiwork was impressive. The renovated sections looked like semi-uniform steps through the mountain but they blended in so well to the terrain and surroundings the work didn’t detract from the natural beauty. The sherpas complimented the mountain.

We crossed a mountain bench, a boardwalk traversed the wetland. I thought we were just about there. I came to a sign, no, only halfway. But what care I? For once I was taking a real stroll. The goal provoked no haste, the journey fed no anxiety. Is this how John Muir traveled?

I met people from the bus already descending. They were in a hurry, a pity. I supposed they scurried up the mountain, took a quick selfie on top and then skeedadled back. I aimed to linger, what a luxury. Is this how John Muir felt?

The tabletop summit matched the advertised grandeur. The view and experience was better than I expected, richer. Selfishly I would have loved to have made a solo climb to be the sole lord and master of the realm. But with my family and under blue skies, I couldn’t have dreamed of a better view.

A women carried her weight. She was fleshly, her husband and sons pulled at her slow pace down the mountain. I imagined her ankles screaming in protest under the natural hide of her Ugg boots. With complaining thighs, I am sure there was quite a corus of pain in her body.

We were near the end. The end is not the summit, that is only halfway. To think of how many montane greenhorns forgot that truth of every mountain journey; the journey down is more dangerous than the journey up. She would make it to the end, but no further.

As we neared the end, others continued up. It’s May, the sun loiters in the sky so late that afternoon can stretch into the hours when you should be in bed. A man about thirty pounded up the trail. The mobile phone in his pocket belched out music. I didn’t share his taste, I don’t think the mountain did either.

We both paused at the first bench, where the boys shed clothes about four hours earlier. I paused to watch people hook up to the zipline. He paused to gasp for breath. I took in the alpine air, he inhaled a fresh cigarette. Groaning to his companions in a Slavic language, he sucked hard on the cancer stick. His shorn head was beat red, sweat oozed from every pore. He had only started. I wondered if he’d make it, my mother knowingly intimated the same question from afar.

Down the mountain steps. Up came a women carrying a small dog. My thighs were complaining. The noise caused me to miss a turn on the trail. I led my family on an ad hoc forest path. Two young Asian men followed. No bother, a happy mistake, we found the road and the end of trail.

I carried a backpack. I carried binoculars, an emply bottle, and a wool sweater. I carried that pack for eight kilometers. The journey took four hours. But I don’t remember the distance or time as much as I remember the people. It was a journey measured in memories.

Looking up, looking ahead, and keeping my pencil sharp.

One response

  1. This was the most amazing hike I have ever been on. Thank you for allowing me to share it with your family.


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